I have written several other novels but this is the one I like best.
While writing the book, I was rereading my favourite book of all time, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens—which has to be the most romantic book ever. As I read, I thought it would be rather fun to mingle what I was reading with what I was writing—my main character began to read the story, and the plot mirrors the same themes of imprisonment and escape, people living under false names, and individuals being caught up by national events (and of course, a dollop of romance).
I actually started to write Out by Ten in April 2019, when I was staying in a holiday home in Norfolk. It struck me that holiday homes often hide the key in the same place each year, and that if you needed to disappear, they would be good places to hide (plus I thought it would be really fun to secretly live in someone else’s house!) I began to write a story about a young woman who was escaping.
It takes a long time to write a novel. I was still writing in 2020, so when Covid-19 arrived, I realised that my ‘contemporary fiction’ would not be very ‘contemporary’ unless I included references to the virus. I therefore rewrote the novel, setting it in the surreal world that we lived in during lockdown. As I felt bewildered by empty supermarket shelves, and insecure as I changed every event in my diary, I transferred those feelings to my main character. Bizarrely, world events, with the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter protests, beautifully mirrored the start of the French Revolution in A Tale of Two Cities, and I found my story flowed naturally in line with what was happening.
One of my friends is autistic. We worked together at lunch club, and when lockdown began we spoke on the phone. I realised how different things appear through her eyes, and I wanted to show some of the challenges involved for a family when one person is on the autistic spectrum. I therefore made one of the main characters autistic—though a child, so very different to my friend. As I wrote, I heard my friend’s voice bemoaning the silly fuss of coronavirus and I tried to imagine how a child might cope (or not cope) with different situations and the stress this would add to family dynamics.
When I thought the book was finished, I gave it to my beta readers, who informed me it was too religious. I didn’t really want to write ‘a religious book’ and decided to remove all references to my faith. This is simply a good story, with no agenda other than to entertain.
Writing this book was tremendous fun, so I hope you will enjoy reading it. As all my book-signings and fairs are currently in lockdown, a proper ‘launch’ of my book won’t be possible, but I wanted to tell you—my extended friends and neighbours—about it. To be honest, I always feel rather awkward about ‘selling’ to friends anyway but it’s a necessary evil to cover my costs. I have therefore decided to list the paperback on Amazon at the reduced price of just £6.99, for this week only. Next week it will raise to £8.99 (to start paying some costs) so please buy a copy quickly, and settle down for a good story.
Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x
The Amazon link is here: